Autism 101

Autism 101

Autism is a complex, lifelong developmental disability defined by a certain set of behaviors that can impact social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation that affects how people communicate and interact with the world.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) encompasses various developmental disorders marked by significant challenges in social interaction, communication, and behavior. In 2013, these disorders were grouped under the term “autism spectrum disorder,” including conditions like autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), Asperger Syndrome, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.

ASD typically appears in early childhood, causing delays in communication, social interaction, and adaptive behavior, with a wide range of cognitive abilities, from gifted to severely challenged.

Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a complex, lifelong condition characterized by challenges in communication and behavior. It falls on a spectrum, impacting individuals in diverse ways and to varying extents. Typically, signs of autism become evident by the age of 2 or 3.

Individuals with autism often encounter difficulties in communication, struggling to comprehend the thoughts and emotions of others. Consequently, they may find it challenging to express themselves, whether through language or non-verbal means such as gestures, facial expressions, or touch.

Learning difficulties are also common among those with autism, with skills developing unevenly. For instance, individuals may face communication challenges while excelling in areas like art, music, mathematics, or memory-related tasks. This disparity can lead to strong performance in analytical or problem-solving assessments.

It’s worth noting that more children are being diagnosed with autism today compared to the past. However, this increase in diagnoses may be attributed to changes in diagnostic criteria rather than a higher prevalence of the disorder itself.


Characterized by an inability to understand how to interact socially, children and young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome often have difficulties in nonverbal communication along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.

A child or young adult with Asperger’s often fail to read social cues, may find it difficult to make friends and doesn’t make much eye contact or small talk. Asperger’s Syndrome is also referred to as “high-functioning” type autism.


Autism is a complex, lifelong developmental disorder defined by a certain set of behaviors that can impact social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation.  

Autism is a “spectrum condition” which means that some are affected more than others, and often may accompany intellectual disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), learning difficulties or mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.


Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified is characterized by significant challenges in social and language development. 

PDD-NOS is a diagnosis applied to those on the autism spectrum but do not fully meet the criteria for another ASD such as autistic disorder (sometimes called “classic” autism) or Asperger Syndrome.


Childhood Disintegrative Disorder — sometimes called regressive autism — is a rare condition in which children develop normally through age 3 or 4. Then, over a few months, children lose language, motor, social, and other skills that they already learned. There is no known cause for the regression.

Autism Statistics

According to the CDC, about 75 million people have autism spectrum disorder in the world (8.1 billion population in 2023). ASD is estimated to affect 3+ million individuals in the U.S.

In 2023, 1 in 36 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. In 2021, 1 in 100 children were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

The rate of autism in the US increased from 1 in 150 in 2000 to 1 in 44 in 2018 and 1 in 36 in 2023. The 2023 prevalence estimate from data collected in 2020 is roughly 317% higher than estimates from 2000.*

Boys are 4x times more likely to be diagnosed than girls. 40% of children with autism are nonverbal; 44% have average or above average intellectual ability; and 31% have an intellectual disability. 

*According to the CDC says more research is needed to understand this variation, which could be related to differences in the strategies used to identify and diagnose the condition.

ABA Therapy for an ASD Child
ABA therapy creates optimal teaching opportunities and conditions to engage your child. Through observation and positive reinforcement, ABA therapy teaches social, motor, and verbal behaviors, as well as reasoning skills, working to manage challenging behaviors of children with ASD.

ABA therapy increases positive behaviors and teaches self-control and self-monitoring to maintain a positive behavior spectrum in various situations.

  • Autism can be reliably diagnosed as early as age 2. Developmental screening by age 3 increased from 74% to 84%, an indicator of potential progress toward earlier and more consistent screening by healthcare providers.  LEARN MORE ABOUT EARLY INTERVENTION
  • Autism affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups, but minorities tend to be diagnosed later and less often.
  • In the latest data released, the CDC reported on the prevalence of profound autism for the very first time. Overall, it showed that 6.7% of people with autism spectrum disorder have profound autism. The study also indicated that more than a quarter of autistic 8-year-olds have profound autism, and the prevalence of profound autism in black children is 76% higher.